Addicts deserve compassion, not incarceration

In another article about mental illness, I wrote about addiction and mass incarceration- an epidemic that is rapidly growing in the United States. Many portray those who suffer from addiction in a negative light, as low-lifes, and as failures. But like any other mental illness, addicts deserve our help and understanding.

“The millions of people we mindlessly incarcerate for drug use are not taken to rehabilitation centers where they can appropriately recover; they are taken to jail, where the root of their addictions are overlooked and the conditions in which they are surrounded provide a heartless and intolerant environment that only fosters more pain.

The bottom line is that as long as drugs exist, people will use them. Unfortunately, deaths from overdose are not enough to stop people from using. Like any other mental illness or disease, drug addictions are beyond one’s control. According to the government-run website for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for between 40 and 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to addiction, including the effects of environment on gene expression and function.””

Read the full article here

Belcher’s suicide a chance to reverse a stigma

Back in December 2012, when pro-football player, Jovan Belcher committed murder-sucide, the idea of such a masculine figure dealing with depression and other anxieties was considered completely taboo. I used Belcher’s story to try to reduce some of that stigma, and to help people realize that mental health issues do not discriminate.

“But what Belcher did after he killed his girlfriend is what needs to be focused on. Belcher’s suicide changes this tragedy from a heartless act to a cry for help, and we should learn from Belcher instead of just labeling him a cold-blooded killer.

Suicide is not a light topic, but that does not mean it should be taboo.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, every 13.7 minutes, someone in the United States dies as a result of suicide.

Every 40 seconds, someone, somewhere in this world, commits suicide.

In 2010, 38,364 Americans committed suicide.

Those numbers are not small. They are significant statistics, and we should not feel ashamed or embarrassed to talk about them.”

Read the full story here